JOHN VENNARI, A PERSONAL APPRECIATION
By Edwin Faust
I was always happy to see John. As soon as he came into view, or when I heard his voice on the telephone, I smiled. John had this effect on most everyone who came into his orbit. I think this was so because John was happy, and he communicated that happiness by his presence and words. It surrounded him like an aura, and those who were close to him could not help being drawn into that happiness in some measure.
But all men, we know, face difficulties in in this world. The sheer strain of making a living can weigh heavily, not to mention the demands of family life. And we haven’t even gotten to the perplexities involved in trying to figure out the answers to the larger questions. John was certainly not immune to any of these problems. He was, in many respects, more acutely aware than most of the enormous dislocation of values in the modern world and the contemporary Church. He did all he could to redirect others to the proper orientation. He wrote tirelessly, researched deeply, traveled, spoke and gave himself generously to all who came to him for knowledge and guidance. But he carried his burdens lightly, with grace. And he never put himself first. When you spoke to him, you knew that you mattered to him, that he was regarding you with affection and a ready desire to help in any way he could.
Such humility, such a sense of service, of fraternal charity, is rarely encountered. It sprang to some extent from John’s natural disposition, but most importantly, it was sustained by his profound Faith and devotion. John believed whole-heartedly in the Catholic Faith. He had full confidence in its doctrine and in the promise of eternal life. And the Faith gave him joy. He spread this joy wherever he went.
I met John almost 30 years ago, when I was a reporter for a daily newspaper researching an article for the Religion Page. I discovered that there was a monastery in the area at which a few monks maintained a chapel where the Traditional Latin Mass was said. I went there, met John, and we became friends immediately. It was as though we had been waiting to talk to each other eagerly for a long time and now we were blessed with the opportunity.
John helped me to understand what had happened to the Catholic Church, which I had been away from for many years. He guided me, through conversations, through recommended books, through the uplift I felt in his presence.
We traveled different roads through the years, and lived in different places. I was often preoccupied with job and family, and John married and became the father of three beautiful children, who I know were the joy of his life. But John has always been in my heart. I will always think of him with love and gratitude. I know I am but one among so many who will say the same thing. The measure of John’s life can be found in all the loving words he has elicited and in the deluge of prayers, Masses and sacrifices offered for his body and spirit. I know that John would not want us to canonize him, but rather to pray for his soul. We who knew him will certainly pray for him, but we cannot help but be convinced that he is likely to be among the saints. Thank you, John, for all you have done for all of us. And may God bless your family.